Library Receives ‘Mental Health First Aid’ Grant

The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County (PLYMC) has received a grant for $4,999 for Mental Health First Aid training. The grant is from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and awarded by the State Library of Ohio, under the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).

With this grant, Library employees and participants from the public will be trained to assist people showing signs of behaviors associated with mental health issues or addiction and connect them to professional services to address their needs.

The grant provides for training in two areas, youth and adult, and aims to educate 100 people interested in this type of specialized instruction. There will be two Adult Mental Health First Aid training sessions and two Youth Mental Health First Aid training sessions held at PLYMC libraries. Those sessions will be scheduled in the coming months.

The Library is partnering with the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board and Alta Care Group, which will provide instructors.

Aimee Fifarek, Library Executive Director, says, “Mental Health First Aid training is aimed at helping staff assist someone exhibiting problems related to issues such as mental illness, substance use, poverty or homelessness. Participants in the training will learn risk factors and warning signs, as well as strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help.”

“Mental Health First Aid teaches about recovery and resiliency – the belief that individuals experiencing these challenges can and do get better, and use their strengths to stay well.

Many of the people who utilize our library’s resources are family, friends, neighbors, coworkers of people who are suffering from mental illness. Because our library system is a central source of providing access to information, we believe that it is perfectly suited to provide education about mental illness to our customers and our community,” Ms. Fifarek noted.

Kelly Kotel, the Library’s Adult Programming Specialist, is the project coordinator.